St. Paul’s join All Saints in the play-offs

Larkin Cassidy Solicitors Antrim IFC Group 2

St Paul’s 1-17 Rasharkin 2-8

St. Paul’s join All Saints Ballymena in the play-off stages of the championship following this six point win over a determined Rasharkin at Shaw’s Road last night.

The sides meet in the final day of the Group 2 qualifiers in Ballymena with nothing at place save who tops the group after the Slemish Park side travelled to and defeated Naomh Padraig in Lisburn last night.

St. Paul’s were on top for most of the hour but were never really able to shake off the visitors and while they will be pleased with the result some of their shooting was wayward.

They came up against a Rasharkin side with only one win in the competition to date but the men from Dreen never give anything away easily and they battled throughout to stay in contention.

The home side were always able to maintain the gap between them however and have certainly pushed on this season following a good run in 2019 which brought them to the semi-final of the IFC.

Daniel Lavery opened the scoring fort St Paul’s before Ryan Lynch hit a great long-range point in reply for Rasharkin.

Michael Connolly restored the St. Paul’s lead on seven minutes and it was a lead they were never to lose. Further points from Connolly, Liam McLarnon and a Liam McKernan free saw the home side move four clear before Connolly converted his third of the evening from a free with 15 minutes played.

It could have been even worse for St Mary’s with St Paul’s kicking five wides and dropping another three short in the opening quarter while McKernan fired a shot across the face of Ryan Doherty’s goal.

Rasharkin were on the back-foot for most of the opening period but responded with a point from Colm Kennedy in the 22nd minute but St Paul’s replied instantly with a point from Liam McKernan.

A free from Andrew Hasson brought St Mary’s back to within four at the break and a ’45’ from the Rasharkin defender on the restart left three between the sides and suddenly it looked like we might have a game on our hands

Rasharkin continued to press and Ryan Lynch looked to be in for a goal but Kiefer Toolan in the St. Paul’s goal brought off a good save at the expense of a ‘45’.

Conall Finnegan and Cathair Henderson exchanged points as St Mary’s pressed forward again in the early stages of the second half but St. Paul’s regrouped and went on to outscore their opponents for the remainder of the third quarter.

Connolly, Peoples, Joe Duffy, McKernan and another brilliant effort from Peoples in reply to Hasson’s first from play saw the home side move clear as the game entered the final quarter.

St Paul’s struck with their only goal of game through full-forward McLarnon after being set up by the impressive Connolly which left the Hoops very much in the driving seat at 1-14 to 0-7.

The visitors quite simply refused to throw in the towel however and their efforts were rewarded with late goals when Tiernan O’Boyle’s shot rebounded of an upright and Shane Hasson was quickest to react, firing to the net from close range.

Rasharkin continued to throw everything at the opposition in the closing minutes and Shane Hasson stepped up to convert a late penalty after Ruairi Hawthorn was brought down to put a much better look on the scoreline.

ST PAUL’S: K Toolan; N Ward, S Bradley, A Kavanagh; J Duffy (0-1), D Burns, D Magee; J Farrell, C O’Hanlon; P Lowe, N Peoples (0-4, 0-2fs), D Lavery (0-2); L McKernan (0-3, 0-fs), L McLarnon (1-1), M Connolly (0-4, 0-1f).

Subs: C Finnegan (0-1) for Lowe (26mins), M Munce for Duffy (46mins), C McLarnon for McKernan (46mins), R Hamill (0-1) for Connolly (51mins).

RASHARKIN: R Doherty; D Doherty, C Hasson, C Doherty; F Quigg, D Quigg, A Hasson (0-4, 0-3fs); J Quinn, T McMullan; D O’Doherty, S Hasson (2-0, 1-0 pen), C Kennedy (0-1); R Lynch (0-2), R O’Boyle, C Henderson.

Subs: T Doherty for D O’Doherty (HT), L Quigg for D Doherty (37mins), T O’Boyle for Quinn (37mins), G O’Hagan for A Hasson (45mins), R Hawthorn for Kennedy (50mins).

REFEREE: M Quinn (St Enda’s).

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